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Fanservice: The Great Lightning Debate

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Fanservice: The Great Lightning Debate

Postby Fusionx » Fri Jul 05, 2013 9:33 pm

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This week at Japan Expo, Square Enix announced that Lightning from Final Fantasy XIII would be making an appearance in Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. She'll be part of a new quest that when completed, will net players a Lightning or Snow costume in addition to weapons taken from Final Fantasy XIII.

The reception from players has been quite mixed over both the appearance of Lightning in Eorzea and the inclusion of these costumes and weapons. From hope that this event will lead into other popular characters making an appearance to worries of ruined immersion to straight up dislike for Lightning and Final Fantasy XIII, the player community has been very vocal about this on both sides of the fence.

On the next episode of Aetheryte Radio, we'll be having a discussion about fanservice in Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. We already have the Crystal Tower and Magitek, Biggs and Wedge and we know that we'll see Xandes, Cloud of Darkness and Lightning. How is it that the community can be so vocal over one piece of fanservice and not another? We invite yo to post your thoughts (either via comments or our forums) about not just Lightning, but the other elements from previous Final Fantasy titles that make an appearance in FFXIV as well. Do they belong? Do they need to be handled a certain way? Do you want more? Let us know what you think in what's (hopefully) a civilized discussion!

We'll read over the feedback and work it into our next episode which is set for the evening of July 13th!
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Re: Fanservice: The Great Lightning Debate

Postby Darkrift1989 » Sat Jul 06, 2013 11:35 am

Hell you might as well just make Sephiroth the final boss, and change the generals from each nation to squall, Cloud, and Zidane, sacrifice Tidus to Bahamut, and change the games name (again) to Final Fantasy XIV:ARR:Kingdom Hearts.
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Re: Fanservice: The Great Lightning Debate

Postby Urthdigger » Mon Jul 08, 2013 3:51 pm

Well, for starters I'd like to point out that fanservice in the FF series is not new. Even in the offline games they've constantly thrown references back to earlier games: The recurring elements like Cid, Biggs, and Wedge are a very noticeable one, but we also have minor references here and there, never so prevalent as in FFIX. IX was simply loaded with references to previous FF series, from the appearance of certain characters (Vivi's an obvious one, but also take a look at Garnet's disguise near the start of the game), to various lines of dialogue and items.

I see this game sitting on a precipice right now. On the one hand, I loved FFIX to death and the constant references were part of the reason, and so I can say I've seen Square pull off fanservice well before. On the other hand, there's the fear that they might shoehorn it in. Having content that's so blatantly obviously there just to be there would simply ruin the immersion.

Thankfully, so far I'm leaning towards the former. They've added a lot of new references since a Realm Reborn, and a lot of it was so immersed in the game's lore that you probably didn't even notice. For example, there are two FFVII references I spotted: The experimental airship is called the Tiny Bronco (The plane from VII), and teleportation is accomplished by allowing your body to return to the "lifestream" without severing your soul's connection. In both cases, the reference serves the world, not the other way around. I pray they continue this trend.
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Re: Fanservice: The Great Lightning Debate

Postby huguesdepayen » Tue Jul 09, 2013 4:38 pm

Hey guys! Love your podcast! Thanks so much for all the hard work on the site and the show! Couldn’t help but chime in on this one!

I think this is an interesting development for FFXIV. Of course, Final Fantasies are notorious for referencing their own games and pop culture on the whole. I've always enjoyed the moments where within the context of the specific story, the writers find a clever way to show the player that they are self-aware. They know where the series has come from, and they reward the life long fans with these easter eggs. Yoshi-P has said that he envisioned FFXIV as an opportunity to capture many different aspects of all the different games. The Golden Saucer, Eggi's, hell even the dotted zone lines are lifted from Final Fantasy 12. Additionally, in 1.0 there was that npc in the shroud that remarked that adventurers have weird names like “xXxSephirothxXx.” (Hysterical!) These references are typically done in a smart playful way and take you out of the game for a second to have a laugh or surf a brief wave of nostalgia.

But if a game does this too much, does it have any time to develop it's own unique voice? How many things can something borrow before it feels like all it’s doing is standing on the shoulders of others? Has FFXIV borrowed content at the expense of generating fantastic original content? Is there still a unique game when quite a few mobs are ported directly from FFXI, the armor is peppered with materia from FFVII and you're riding a magitek mount from FFVI? I personally like to think Eorzea can stand on it's own despite all these inclusions, (I love all the FFXI mobs too. Just my opinion.) but I can see why others may feel differently. Could they be playing it too safe by relying on content people have already enjoyed in other games? Even if you feel Eorzea has it's own identity given all of borrowed content, (admittedly everything so far has been justified in the lore quite well) the question is: "Does this Lightning cameo fall into the same category as The Gold Saucer, Materia, and Magitek?"

I don't know if it does. All these other examples call back past Final Fantasies. Their existence appears solely to serve as familiar Final Fantasy elements to give you the unique impression of playing a Final Fantasy MMO. To some, this FF13 content seems to be little more than an unabashed cross promotion for a new game coming out. It feels like they put up a poster for Lightning Returns in the Drowning Wench. (SE if you're somehow reading this PLEASE DON'T THINK THAT IS A GOOD IDEA.) It's certainly not very subtle. It seems like SE executives saw that FFXIV:ARR and Lightning Returns were coming out around the same time frame, so why shouldn’t they leverage content in each game to help promote the other? This happens a lot today in many other games and forms of media, but does it fit in an MMO? Is this something most FFXIV player will see as an enhancement to their experience in Eorzea?

Of course everyone's threshold for immersion is going to be different. Some people don't even care about immersion and would be happy with an entirely meta gaming experience. Essentially, We don't know how well they're going to fit this into the lore, (Personally I hope it's a dream like the Dalamud nightmare, but when you wake up you find the armor and weapon instead of crystals or fish.) but they have promised there will be decent justification for it. I think that the bottom line is, if you truly believe what Yoshi-P said when he stepped into the position, that he would have no problems telling his superiors when their business decisions may potentially harm the vision of the game, you have nothing to worry about.

Remember you can always avoid the questline and accept that some pieces of armor in FFXIV look hauntingly reminiscent* of items in other games. (* Read: are exact reproductions of)
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Re: Fanservice: The Great Lightning Debate

Postby KaMuiSouZou » Tue Jul 09, 2013 5:48 pm

First, of all, this issue has nothing to do with if you like/hate Lightning or if you liked/hated XIII. So please don't argue she should be in there because you liked her or she shouldn't because you don't like XIII. It simply doesn't matter.


Here's my thoughts on the whole matter... (bold is my points, non-bold is just supplementary)
Each new Final Fantasy accomplishes two things, 1-How it develops it's own identity and 2-How it further develops the overall Final Fantasy identity. EVERYTHING in each game must do one of these.

The overall identity of Final Fantasy is reiterated and developed through the use of recurring themes (light/dark, chaos/harmony, crystals), recurring character names (Cid, Biggs/Wedge) and other things like Chocobos/Moogles, Summons, weapons (Excalibur, Masamune), items (potions, antidotes, elixer) and battle elements (job system).

At the same time, certain things in each game establishes the unique world of each game. Primarily this is the story (with it's specific characters), story weapons (buster sword), game systems (FF8's draw system), etc.

Fundamentally by nature, a single thing CAN NOT do both - something that makes one game unique can't develop the overall series without detracting from the uniqueness in the original game. Likewise, something that appears in every FF cannot make a single game unique from others.

There are some things which may not seem as clearly black and white, but this still stands. For example, simply having Moogles in the game adds to the overall FF feel. However, each race of Moogle is different in each game. Therefore, XIV's Moogles add to the uniqueness of XIV's world. If it was the same race of Moogles in every FF, it would add to the overall FF series and NOT add uniqueness to XIV.

Let's take the draw system from FF8. This is something that is currently only in 8, therefore it is an identifying part of FF8. If it is used in another game, it is no longer a FF8 battle system. It is a Final Fantasy battle system that is used in 2 games, which includes 8. Similarly, materia used to be a FF7 game system. Now, it's in 2 games and the name can be reused in future games as long as the mechanics are similar. It's essentially turned into the job-system, a recurring FF thing slightly different in each game it appears in.

Whenever you take items that are unique to one game and add it to another for nostalgia, you are increasing a homogenous feel to the overall FF series, but at the cost of sacrificing the original uniqueness of said item and game. This is what we call fanservice. The degree of this depends on how the fanservice is done. So the ultimate question becomes "What is the right balance? How much uniqueness are we willing to sacrifice for fan-service?"

We finally arrive at Lightning in XIV, the fanservice in question. For me, directly placing an actual story character into another universe is one of the BIGGEST ways to detract the uniqueness of the original game for the sake of fanservice and promotion. This stays true no matter how well it is written into the lore and story. These effects can be "minimized" or lessened by saying it's just a temporary seasonal event where the actual lore of the game is "suspended." However even then, by simply being there it's detracting from both XIII and XIV's uniqueness to a degree.

Gilgamesh is often noted as being a character that does this, so therefore it should be ok for Lightning to cross-game travel as well. But people fail to think that having other characters also do this detracts from the uniqueness of Gilgamesh as well. The more you "pull out" the dimensional rift card the less unique it gets, like a joke told too many times.

In the end, everyone has different opinions on what the right balance is and it's just that - opinions. But everyone should be aware of this question of balance when they ask themselves what they're willing to sacrifice when Lightning is in the game, as well as moving forward in XIV with future fan-service.

For the record, here's my opinion: I don't like Lightning in XIV because I think it sacrifices too much uniqueness from both XIII and XIV. It's much better if it's a temporary seasonal type event like I've heard where the lore of XIV is "suspended." Regardless, while I'm reluctantly okay with the clothes and weapons, having her actually appear is a bit too much for me.
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Re: Fanservice: The Great Lightning Debate

Postby KaMuiSouZou » Tue Jul 09, 2013 10:08 pm

Woops, wanted to make an edit and accidentally duplicated the post instead! I'll use this space to post a final thought:

Overall, I'm okay with fan-service. FF is full of recurring things and turning some things that are unique into recurring things is okay. In many cases, it helps bring a stronger cohesive FF feel, which is what much of XIV's fan service has been like so far. But besides just a matter of what to use and how to use it, it's equally important to think what NOT to use and how NOT to use it. Messing with certain unique things can have the opposite effect - sacrificing too much uniqueness in the name of fan-service. IMO having main characters in other games is a prime example. It's the collection of UNIQUE and SEPARATE games/stories/characters that is the foundation of the Final Fantasy name as a whole and should continue to be the heart of the series. You shouldn't RELY on fan-service to be what advances the FF brand and Lightning in XIV weakens this foundational aspect of the Final Fantasy series.
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Re: Fanservice: The Great Lightning Debate

Postby Faleni » Sat Jul 13, 2013 5:47 pm

KaMuiSouZou and huguesdepayen make some great points. I can't hope to easily match that without an hour or so of meditation, but I wanted to weigh in my minor and humble opinion as well;
(In light of recent communication by Yoshi-P)
I don't want to see major or main characters from the other games "fall" into Eorzea, though they do have a lore-based avenue for some of it. This is the Void, which relates to the relative unknown of what a character cannot see in the worlds of the Final Fantasy universe.
Characters which hold similar moments or personality characteristics (Nael van Darnus and Sephiroth, or was it xXSephirothXx?) would be great for some storylines (like the Calamity), but overall I feel don't fit.
If they are to tie it into other games more than this Lightning questline, though, I hope they find a way to externally (to the events of the spin-offs) relate it to Dissidia, or maybe even Crystal Chronicles. Dissidia, mainly because of where it stands in the series; a game for the crossover of characters in the Final Fantasy universe. Unfortunately, it had to give everyone a form of amnesia to make a unique, separated world like was pointed out by Yoshi-P.
Sorry if this post is a bit...rambling.
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Re: Fanservice: The Great Lightning Debate

Postby Grimtail » Mon Jul 15, 2013 2:57 pm

Here is my stance on the matter.

Usually I would say no to this kind of thing because I would prefer if the lore for a game i'm playing has its own solid identity. But I never felt the story for FFXIV was ever a strong story begin with. And this may sound harsh but ever since the FFXIII series, I feel that SE's ability to craft an awesome story has been left at the doorstep of FFX. (and arguably FFXII. I liked it)

Because of this, I really don't care who they add to the world, whether its as a harmless side quest or into the thick of the lore itself. I think they've done busted this game in the lore department and I just don't find it good enough to actually be bothered by it unfortunately. In fact, I think if they turned this game into a hub where characters and events from other FF universes can be experienced through our characters then that would be good. I always thought that an MMO of a Final Fantasy game should be a grand celebration of every game in the franchise and that if the story could somehow find a way of justifying traveling to those worlds so we can get sweet loot from them, then that would be pretty damn good.

I think this lightning thing is basically displaying that SE don't really have enough confidence in FFXIV really immersing people within its own lore so they will instead inject other characters from other games to get peoples attention. Thats just my opinion though. I fully know that there are people who genuinely enjoy this games story and thats great. I just think the plot has been tainted by the fact that XIV1.0 was a bad game and they had to rewrite certain things and come up with lore excuses to justify the worlds re-design.

I like to use the analogy of living room. Square tried to rearrange the furniture but their hands were riddled with chocolate, leaving stains on everything they touched. Instead of them to just be honest and admit that their hands were dirty and buy brand new furniture, they instead tried to come up with reasons as to how the chocolate stains got there. And we all know that when you make stuff up, there is no limit to where you can go with your testimony. So why not have Lightning from FFXIII? At this point, there is no reason why they cant and why they shouldn't. And for those who are against it (and understandably so) you probably better just brace yourselves, because once lightning is here, there is literally no reason why Cloud, or Tidus, or Squall can't make their way to XIV.
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Re: Fanservice: The Great Lightning Debate

Postby Catapult » Sat Jul 20, 2013 4:53 am

((Finally got my thoughts in order and put a finger on why this whole concept doesn't bother me.))

For those of you who seem to think this all "suddenly" began at E3 when the Lightning Returns producer came in with Lightning in a Miqo'te outfit, think again. There is a very high likelihood this was all scripted up by the Square Enix marketing department many moons ago.

To understand, let's rewind to the 14th of February, 2012, where community rep Camate posts a translation from Yoshida about the "world merge" (read: server merge) process underway. He had this to say about the naming of the worlds/servers...

The World names currently in use may be unfamiliar or difficult to understand for those who are not hardcore players, so we wanted to change these names to be more familiar to casual FINAL FANTASY players, as we approach the release of 2.0. Also, as we look to expand FFXIV, some of our visions for the future, such as releasing content based in Worlds from previous FF titles, will require us to use names previously reserved for Worlds as names of cities and other locations instead. (For example, we feel like Midgar has too powerful of an image associated with it to be used as a name for a World. Also, we would like to reserve the name Gold Saucer for the casino, not a world.)

"such as releasing content based in Worlds from previous FF titles"

Engaging in fanservice through FF-world crossover appears to have been on the cards for the better part of Yoshida's development cycle. This appearance of Lightning did not come out of a hasty and unprepared whim, although Lightning coming to Eorzea is a little different from the originally-hinted plans of having Eorzeans visit Spira or Ivalice. But it does mean that working out how to handle it has been on the Lore team's radar for quite some time, and no doubt they have plans.

...epic, juicy plans.
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Re: Fanservice: The Great Lightning Debate

Postby delmontyb » Wed Jan 14, 2015 5:41 pm

Now that the events have run and been enjoyed, does anyone still think that they shouldn't have? I think so far, Yoshi-P has done a great job at keeping it in check. :)

It's been a while, and not a lot of activity with the forums, but I figured I'd post anyway.
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